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Alexander Calder

Wooden Bottle with Hairs

1943

Artist

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

Title

Wooden Bottle with Hairs

Date

1943

Medium

Wood, steel wire, and nails

Dimensions

Overall: 21 1/4 × 15 3/4 × 12 1/8 in. (54 × 40 × 30.8 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation, Inc. in honor of the Museum's 50th Anniversary

Accession number

80.28.2a-l

Object Label

During World War II, Alexander Calder relied increasingly on wood for his sculpture due to domestic shortages of metal. A skilled wood carver since the late 1920s, he embarked on a new group of constructions in 1942 called Constellations, an imaginative response to the biomorphic Surrealism of his friends Joan Miró and Jean Arp. For Wooden Bottle with Hairs, Calder carved a curving, bottle-shaped form to which he attached small, pointed black “hairs” that dangle from wires and chains and jiggle when disturbed. Dubbed “ferocious” by the art critic Roberta Smith, who remarked that the piece suggests “nothing so much as a large peanut with a five-day-old beard,” Wooden Bottle with Hairs is indeed a haunting and enigmatic object—as well as a mordantly humorous one.

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